Achieving a big hairy goal is kind of like climbing a mountain.
Every year, I review what worked and didn’t work during the past year. I also consider what I’d like to focus on or achieve.
Goal setting is a rewarding practice, but it takes time to get right.
It’s a long and hard process that you must break into stages if you want to stand a chance of reaching the top of the mountain. I don’t always get there, but the process is still rewarding.
Your summit might be publishing a book, generating six figures in revenue, running a marathon or getting a promotion.
To find out, ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve, and how will I get there?”
The prospects of actually achieving your goal should cause your hairs to stand on ends. Then, like an astute climber, gather only what you need and set markers along the way, indicating your progress.
How To Create Meaningful Smaller Milestones
If you want to write a nonfiction book to build your business, break the project into a target daily word count as well as series of mini-deadlines for each chapter or section.
This way, you can hold yourself to account about how much you’re writing and what you’re actually sending to your editor.
If you want to achieve a revenue goal for the year, break the total into quarterly and monthly targets that you can track on a dashboard or spreadsheet. Filling in the relevant numbers each week or month will enable course-corrections as the year goes on.
If you want to run a marathon, break the distance into a series of shorter races that you will train for: for example, a 5 kilometers, 10 kilometers, ten miles, half- and then a full marathon. This way, your race times represent benchmarks for evaluating your training.
If you want to create an online course and increase your business revenues by fifty percent this financial year, break this down in project milestones. You could say, “I will record five lessons by the end of this week,” or “I will sell 20 copies of my course this month for $197 each.”
What To Do When You’re Behind
It’s natural to sometimes fall behind on completing a big project or achieving a goal. The messy middle is likely to induce feelings of procrastination and even worry.
Researchers found when an individual or team recognizes they’re behind on an important project, this knowledge might drive them past a difficult mid-point and toward the mountaintop.
In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink writes about this research:
First, be aware of midpoints. Don’t let them remain invisible. Second, use them to wake up rather than roll over — to utter an anxious “uh-oh” rather than a resigned “oh, no.” Third, at the midpoint, imagine that you’re behind — but only by a little. That will spark your motivation.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur or working for a large company, commit to checking up on your progress regularly. At the very least, write down at the end of the workday what you accomplished, however small.
How To Exercise Patience
If progress feels slower than you’d like, take heart from the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”
He understood persistence is the key to finishing something important. It’s natural for your motivation to wane at certain times during the day or during the mid-point of a long-term project.
Holding yourself to account and marking your progress will help you identify blockers and refocus tomorrow or next week. Often, committing to the climb is just as important as planting your flag on top of any mountain.